Readers’ wildlife photos

December 23, 2020 • 8:00 am

Biologist John Avise has contributed some non-duck and non-faux-duck photos for today’s feature, which one could call “Three Ways of Looking at a Gull”. His notes and captions are indented; click on the photos to enlarge them.

I’m heeding your call for more photos to add to your Readers’ Wildlife Photos bin.  This time, I tell the stories of three recent encounters I’ve had with a local gull species.

Three Stories of Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis)

Most of the time, members of this common species in California rest quietly on land or fly around lazily.  But every once in a while, their wilder side comes out and is on full display.  The captions of the following sequences of photos tell three such stories: (1) a drag-out fight between two birds; (2) the killing and eating of a wild octopus; and (3) scavenging the remains of a dismembered lobster cadaver.

A flock at rest:

A bird in flight:

It started out peacefully:

But then one bird got agitated…:

And attacked the other:


Things escalated…:

And grew more serious…:

And more serious…:

As one bird nearly drowned…:

But managed to keep his head out of the water:

She’s caught a live octopus:

The octopus tries to escape…:

But it’s no use…:

The gull kills the octopus:

It’s all over now:

Except for the swallowing:

The octopuses’ last sight:

She’s found a lobster shell on the beach:

Might there be goodies left inside?:

Yes, and even more meat in the tail:

Portrait of a satisfied bird:

14 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Cool set

    I had a Pooh-bear level thought the other day – upon spying a clam shell, being 100’s of miles from a beach, I wondered if any life form might usurp the shell and, over evolutionary time scales, develop into a distinct species… as hermit crabs….

  2. Good heavens, such violence! It recalls the words of a King: Can’t we all just get along? Wasn’t he arrested a few years later for beating up his girlfriend?

  3. Terrific pictures, but I always feel especially bad when I see octopuses getting hurt or killed, because I know they’re very smart, but it’s so hard to say how much and in what way, since their form of intelligence is so different from ours. It seems almost as if one were watching a recently arrived extraterrestrial on an exploratory mission being killed by some random earth creature (not necessarily a human).

    And, of course, part of me worries that, one of these days, Cthulhu is going to get ticked off.

  4. Great pictures! Gulls also do a great job of stealing food out of your hand at the beach. They sure are fast at it here on San Diego beaches.

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